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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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April 03 2015

Hitfix calls "Brain-Dead Poets Society", television they will never forget. Hitfix's series "Waxing Episodic" picks the Joss written episode of "Roseanne" for adding dimensions to the character of Darlene which were not present before the episode, among a whole host of other reasons.


I just finished watched the episode for the second time ever, five minutes before finding and reading this post. Even though the episode is very uneven and rough around the edges, and in some places, embarrassingly amateurish. There are still moments that just slice your heart open with jewels of incisiveness.

In the recent biography of Joss, I thought it was amazing that his original draft of the script had Darlene writing her poem about basketball. One of the more senior people on staff at "Roseanne" sent him a note that led to Joss rewriting the scene to give us "To Whom It Concerns".

I was thinking that joss had gotten to the "Darlene" of the episode, in the same way that he would later focus on how to get to the "Buffy" of each episode of his own series. That moment of insight and clarity where a character would face a moment of choice and would choose to either grow or not grow as a person. Either way, they would be forever changed by the moment.
I watched the entire series last year, I think I first heard of it because of Joss. And it became one of my favorite sitcoms, it's in my top 3. It's definitely the most "realistic" sitcom I've ever seen, it just sounds so true, it's laugh at loud funny and it can get incredibly serious and emotional.
It took me some time to get into it during season 1, and I'd say Joss' episodes in season 2 is when I really started loving the show, with that episode in particular.
Even though the show is called "Roseanne" it was much more of an ensemble piece in that the children were fully realized characters and not "the boy" or just "the jock girl". This episode points out that Roseanne and Dan have different relationships with each of their children much like in a real family.

Since the show is called "Roseanne" they would need to find the "Roseanne" of the episode. The piece mentions this when talking about part of the reason why she wants Darlene to read the poem so badly is because of her own writing aspirations which would become more important as the series progressed.

Joss has said that he saw the show in its first season and thought that he would like to be a writer on the show. He was hired to write for the second season. He got an opportunity to write episodes as a young writer because there was so much conflict in the writers room. Roseanne appreciated how he wrote for women so well. This episode is an example of that.
It's definitely the most "realistic" sitcom I've ever seen.

Yes, it left quite the impression on me when I watched it as a teen in the late 80s. It felt fresh and it didn't feel safe. There really hasn't been a sitcom like it since.
I always thought "Why do they say they're poor? They live in a house."
I loved it because we had their kitchen table and an orange version of their couch. The portrayal of two working parents and siblings who often fought was just very reassuring.

I loved the Cosbies & Keatons but found them way too cool and rich.
I'm way more Roseanne (and Grace from Grace Under Fire, according to my brother) than I am, say, Joyce. :)

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